Bringing investment commitments in the broader Westown mini-city development to R4.5 billion.
Balwin Properties – the JSE-listed residential developer of large-scale sectional title estates in SA – is set to develop a new R2 billion lifestyle estate in KwaZulu-Natal’s burgeoning Shongweni area.
On Wednesday night, the group announced the development of Shongweni Park – a 1 260-apartment project that will be part of the broader R15 billion Westown mini-city precinct being led by Fundamentum Property Group west of Durban.
Balwin is backing the Westown project in a big way with the new estate, which represents the group’s first foray in the west of the city and will be the first residential project within the mega development.
“We’re very excited with this unique opportunity to further increase our footprint in the province, where our lifestyle estates – Ballito Hills [North Coast] and Izinga Eco Estate in Umhlanga have proven highly popular with home buyers,” Balwin CEO Steve Brookes said on Wednesday.
“Shongweni Park will have a total development value of approximately R2 billion … It forms part of our classic brand of lifestyle estates, and can be compared to Ballito Hills, Thaba Eco Estate and The Blyde in Gauteng, or The Huntsman in the Western Cape,” Brookes told Moneyweb.
The Shongweni estate is Balwin’s latest development to be announced, with the group having a development pipeline of some 50 000 apartments at various estate projects across SA over the next 15 to 20 years.
It will be slightly smaller (in terms of unit numbers) than Ballito Hills, which has just over 1 300 apartments planned next to the Ballito Junction Regional Shopping Mall.
Asked what attracted Balwin to Shongweni, Brookes said: “The significant infrastructure investment by Westown and the backing it has from the eThekweni Municipality and financial institutions will make this development a premier node where young families and professionals alike will want to live, work and play.”
“It provided us with a unique opportunity to expand in KwaZulu-Natal, where we already have two coastal developments.”
Brookes said funding for the Shongweni Park estate is being negotiated and will be announced in due course. The development will comprise 20 phases to be built out over the next four years, with the first phase of construction on the residential project set to commence in mid 2024.
Fundamentum CEO Carlos Correia said he was thrilled to announce the involvement of a number of partners in the broader Westown development, including Balwin Properties and Absa Bank.
While Balwin is developing the new residential estate within Westown, Absa is the primary funder of Fundamentum’s R1.4 billion Westown Square retail component, which will cover some 50 000m² of retail space. The open-air centre is the first property project to kick off in the development and will anchor the Westown precinct.
This is the second major property project announced in KZN within a month in which Absa is the main funder – the former being the new R2 billion Club Med Tinley resort on the North Coast. Other funders and equity partners on that development, being led by the Collins Residential group, include African Bank and the Industrial Development Corporation.
On Wednesday, Fundamentum marked a year milestone since bulk earthworks and construction began on Westown and the retail component. Westown is a 100ha mixed-use precinct being developed midway between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, just off the N3 highway.
“The speed at which the development team is moving is testament to our unequivocal commitment to the long-term realisation of this ultimate R15 billion investment in eThekwini,” said Correia.
“It is the first phase in the Shongweni Urban Development, and one of the biggest infrastructural investments in the municipality since the 2010 Fifa World Cup,” he added.
“We are proud to have been a major catalyst in this development,” said Charles Russon, Absa’s chief executive for Corporate and Investment Banking.
“This new strategically located node being kick-started by the development of Westown Square will have a positive impact on KZN and the local community to ensure that all stakeholders will benefit,” he added.
Meanwhile, Correia said the 100ha main development site is a hive of activity, with local contractors Stefanutti Stocks heading up the construction work and around 500 construction workers and various professionals currently on site.
“Piling, earthworks, retaining structures and columns of Westown Square are virtually all complete and the walls of the 50 000m² retail experience are now going up,” he highlighted.
The Westown mixed-use precinct will be a managed urban environment with secured and approved development rights of approximately 520 000m² of bulk floor area, according to Correia.
“So far over R4.5 billion has been committed and this investment is set to double within the next couple of years,” he said.